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La Cañada Flintridge, Burbank take home awards at Rose Parade

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The La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn. won the Bob Hope Humor Award for its self-built float called “Dodo Bird Flight School” at the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

A year’s worth of work and dedication by hundreds of volunteers was recognized with awards during the 2020 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

All six of the self-built floats — from La Cañada Flintridge, Burbank, South Pasadena, Cal Poly Universities, Downey and Sierra Madre — earned awards in the 131st Rose Parade, a feat that is rarely achieved during the annual event.

The La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn.‘s float, called “Dodo Bird Flight School,” brought home the Bob Hope Humor Award, a distinction the organization has won four times in the past five years.

“One of the purposes of our float association is to be humorous, so it’s particularly rewarding to get the Bob Hope Humor banner,” said Charles Thuss, a board member of the La Cañada organization.

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The float depicted a flock of flightless birds trying to take flight with the help of a zeppelin, all backed with a loop of Lenny Kravitz’s hit song “Fly Away.”

Leading the main float was an electric-powered satellite unit — a first for the La Cañada group — that was also adorned with flowers and included a figure of an ostrich riding a device reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci’s helicopter.

As the main entry blasted Kravitz’s song from its speakers, the satellite float darted all over Colorado Boulevard honking at the crowd and those who dared to cross the parade route.

Cory Hill, a first-time volunteer with the La Cañada association, worked on the animations on the float and said he was pleased with how it all turned out and was grateful the animations were all in working order.

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Hill, a scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said dealing with animations on a float is a fairly involved process but admitted that he has a lot to learn from the volunteers who have spent years with the organization.

“I’ve spent weekends starting in June all the way through today working with the mechanics, getting measurements and making sure everything works,” Hill said.

La Cañada was also represented in the parade by Rose Princess Emilie Risha, a resident of the city and a senior at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, who rode on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court float with Rose Queen Camille Kennedy. Rounding out the court were Princesses Cole Fox, Rukan Saif, Reese Rosental Saporito, Mia Thorsen and Michael Wilkins.

Princess Emilie said when she was chosen for the court that she recognized she’d be engaging in a whirlwind of activities — about 100 appearances, including Wednesday’s Rose Bowl Game — and that she was “definitely looking forward to making the most out of this experience.”

Another local, Brenda Gant was one of 100 walkers who accompanied the Pasadena Celebrates 2020 float titled “Years of Hope. Years of Courage,” which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution — giving women the right to vote.

Gant, who lives in Glendale, was sponsored by the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club. She has been a member of the organization, which helps women and children in need, for six years.

When she was younger, Gant said she remembers attending the parade and seeing the floats up close afterward.

On Wednesday, she had the opportunity to walk the 5.5-mile route and celebrate with 99 other women a cause that is near and dear to her.

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“I’m looking forward to representing the women’s suffrage movement, representing women across America and across the world and see my family up in the stands,” Gant said before the parade started. “I’m going to be doing a lot of waving.”

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The Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn. won the Leishman Public Service Award for its self-built float, “Rise Up,” at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Rose Parade in Pasadena on Jan. 1, 2020.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Several spots ahead of the Pasadena Celebrates 2020 float was the Burbank Tournament of Roses Assn. entry, “ Rise Up,” which won the Leishman Public Spirit Award for the most outstanding floral presentation from a non-commercial float builder — a first for the organization.

Burbank’s float sported a large phoenix rising from the ashes with its tails shooting bursts of fireballs into the chilly air.

Erik C. Andersen, the decoration chair of the Burbank organization, said receiving the Leishman Public Spirit award validated all the hard work that he and hundreds of other volunteers put into making their float as beautiful as possible.

“The professional floats have a bigger budget than we do, so it’s hard for us to compete with them,” Andersen said.

The float is a tribute to the thousands of Californians affected by wildfires over the past two years.

The designer of Burbank’s float, Lisa Long, is a resident of Dublin, a Northern California city in Alameda County.

Long said she has acquaintances from Paradise who lost everything they had in the Camp Fire, and she has met with numerous other people who were affected by the disaster.

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She said she hopes those who undergo any tragedy can find the strength to get back on their feet and heal.

“To see people choosing to move forward is inspiring,” Long said.

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